Last night, it was standing room only at City Hall for the informal Common Council meeting at which Council president Don Moore had agreed to allow a public discussion of the proposed Galvan Quarters at State and Seventh streets. Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "Anger over homeless shelter plan."
A major theme of the comments last night was that homeless people--people who are victims of circumstance and down on their luck--don't deserve to be warehoused and treated like prisoners, and the current plan is too dense and on too large a scale to address "the humanity of the problem." Another recurrent theme was Rick Scalera's apparent conflict of interest: representing the Fifth Ward, where the proposed facility is to be located, on the Board of Supervisors, while being employed by the Galvan Foundation, whose proposal it is.
In Casey's article, Scalera is quoted as saying of his critics, "They have a real misunderstanding of the situation and any ethical issues it might have. . . . I stay out of the discussions and all negotiations." Elsewhere, Scalera has claimed that as "special adviser" to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation his only job is to to make recommendations for recipients of the grants awarded by the foundation. An incident witnessed last night and reported to Gossips suggests that Scalera's work to promote the interests of Eric Galloway and the Galvan Foundation may go far beyond his published "job description," and although he claims to "stay out of discussions and all negotiations," he engages in behind-the-scenes efforts to influence policy for his employer's benefit.
At about 6:50 last evening, Scalera was witnessed passing off an envelope to Cappy Pierro at the intersection of Warren and Fifth streets. Later, during the Council meeting, Pierro--Fifth Ward alderman and longtime aide to Scalera in the mayor's office--extracted from that envelope the illustrations used in the latest of his periodic rants against the Historic Preservation Commission for allegedly "holding up" one or another of Galvan's projects. This month's topic was 67-71 North Fifth Street.
Displaying the renderings of the two faux Greek Revival designs, Pierro claimed that the HPC had "shot down" two perfectly good designs and people on the east side of the street (the Fifth Ward) were complaining about the "delay with the eyesore."
Aldermen Nick Haddad (First Ward) and John Friedman (Third Ward) defended the HPC, explaining that the proposed designs depart from the authentic character of the building and do not relate to the rest of the neighborhood.
Nevertheless, on cue, Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) declared: "If historic preservation can't accept these plans, historic preservation should be done away with." Then, as this little routine between Scalera's water bearers typically goes, Pierro protested that he did not want to do away with historic preservation, he just wanted to reduce the HPC's power to an "advisory capacity." Were this to happen, Galloway would have carte blanche to impose his taste and sensibility on Hudson and to destroy willy-nilly its architectural authenticity.